Friday, August 31, 2012

Indies Previews for October Part 3 of 3

The conclusion.
Treasury of a Victorian Murder Compendium Vol. 01 by (w/a/c) Rick Geary
In this first omnibus volume from Geary's increasingly storied Treasuries of Murder: the first trilogy of murders that made up the very first volume of this series, Jack the Ripper as only he can narrate it, The Beast of Chicago about H.H. Holmes, possibly the first serial murderer with chilling methodical means and The Fatal Bullet about the assassination of president James Garfield. 6x9, B-W, 228 pgs, $24.99
Lee:  Jim and I have been reading books in the Victorian Murder series for years so now is your time to catch up.  This are incredibly insightful books about true crime.  Very often, gruesome true crime!  This is highly recommended for everyone.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Indies Previews for October Part 2 of 3

Continued from yesterday...

Gingko Press
Steampunk: The Beginning SC ny (W) James P. Blaylock
Steampunk: The Beginning features over 80 illustrations of characters and scenes from three seminal Steampunk novels: Homonculus (1986) by James Blaylock, Infernal Devices (1987) by K.W. Jeter, and Anubis Gates (1983) by Tim Powers. All three authors were students at Cal State Fullerton in the 1970s, where they wrote early Steampunk short stories. Fittingly, the illustrations found in Steampunk: The Beginning are all by Cal State Fullerton students, alumni, and faculty. Essays by the original Steampunks James P. Blaylock, K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers bring the project full-circle. FC, 10x11, 120 pgs, $24.95
Lee:  Actually, I really don't care about this book.  I'm sure it's interesting n'all but it makes me feel m'eh.  BUT, it does make me want to read the three books it references.  I am always looking for a good book and this gave me some great places to start.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Indies Previews for October Part 1 of 3

Lee: It was fun having a month off.  Actually it was a much needed break.  The thing I missed the most was the Indies preview selection.  So, on short notice, let me catch up.

:01 First Second
Tune: Vanishing Point SC by (w/A/C) Derek Kirk Kim
Andy's life is going nowhere, fast. He left art school with his career all worked out ahead of time, but to say it didn't work out is the understatement of the century. Unemployed and living with his overbearing parents, Andy struggles to keep sight of the lofty goals that once drove him. But it's hard, even when he reconnects with his old art school crush, Yumi. Things look better, briefly, with Yumi back in the picture and an actual job offer on the table. But then Andy takes the job offer - to work at a zoo - and finds himself in an alternate dimension. The zoo? Is run by aliens. The exhibit? Is him. FC, 6x9, 160 pgs, $16.99
Read the first issue here.  Visit the artist here.
Lee:  Sometimes you just need a fun book that helps to pass the time.  This looks like that book.  Nothing deep, nothing meaningful, just a whole lotta laughs. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What I’m Getting August 29

As I add this back as normal weekly post I will continue to provide a link to the full list of books on the Cosmic Comics website. I encourage anyone who get their books via a subscription service to give these guys a try. I was a little worried getting my books by mail, but the handling of everything has been perfect. Back to the column, I continue to care less and less about much of the standard super hero fare, but find enjoyment in all sorts of books which still includes some standard material.

Starting out with Marvel, this has to be the most super hero laden company around that is almost solely dependent on that category for sales. This week I’m getting Avengers V X-Men (#5 of 6) (the fight book), Hulk #57 (red version), Uncanny X-Force #30 and Winter Soldier #9. The AvX book I have decide to get for no other real reason that a young man who is a fan of these fights. I read it and mail it on. For myself there is no true bang for the buck, but it is cool to know that it is still an exciting book for a younger fan. The Red Hulk book is fun and it has its moments. The one thing that keeps me on the book is Jeff Parker. He works on building a story line and expands on it all the time. Jeff also is willing to create some new villains and that helps to keep the book enjoyable. Uncanny X-Force has been Rick Remender’s claim to fame at Marvel. He took this group to darker places than anyone else. He crafts storylines that resolve at the same time continues to build a larger scope. The artwork has been hit or miss, but as far as I’m concerned I follow this book and could care less if the rest of the MU reflects what happens here or not. Last up from the house the Stan, Jack and Steve built is the Winter Soldier. The story of Bucky by Ed Brubaker has not been his strongest work and often Bucky needs to be bailed out almost as much as he did while he was Captain America. Ed is leaving the book soon and I will follow it for a little longer. It is trying to be the Bourne Identity of Marvel and is failing. The plus is that it is different and I’ll take that for now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Week of August 22 in Review

As always I’m playing around with my format. As much as possible I’m trying to write my capsule reviews and/or impressions of certain titles shortly after I read the book. Hopefully it gives my view more of an immediate impact. Often over time my opinion can change on a book or the visceral rush goes away and I have more of a dispassionate view of a work. Anyway that is this week’s thought process. Then I want to add some comment to every book I got that come out last week, so at least every book gets some mention.

Scalped #60 brings to a close the story of Dash Bad Horse. The issue itself was full of the raw emotional content that was a hallmark of the series and instead of a “Warren Ellis” ending we got two men who are left with vastly different lives then the ones they had been living. This series deserves a deluxe hard cover format reprinting and hopefully it will be spread over two or three volumes. It has to go down as one of the best series ever done and the fact that the story had an ending made it even stronger. The story often went exactly where you thought it would go and that makes sense or else the characters would not have been true to themselves. The story also went to unexpected places and again that is the nature of life. Jason Aaron with RM Guera as the main artist produced a story that should stand the test of time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Funrama #1 for Free

So I was at CBR’s website and found out about a comic that is self published by Ryan Kelly, who I know for his artwork on many series such as the great series Local with Brian Wood and now working on the quirky Saucer Country. 

Who knew he has this side project that he likes to do when he can. Anyway I went out and read issue #1 for free and you can to by clicking FUNRAMA #1

Then I decided to go ahead and buy issue #2. Sure it cost $7 with mailing, but supporting something like this is fun and gives a creator at least a few cents in their pocket for all their hard work.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The DC Editorial Debacle

The latest news is Rob Liefeld quit working for DC and as he left he was stating the editorial interference has become too great at DC. This is a similar compliant that has been raised by many of the creators at DC. Personally I’m glad to see him go, but his leaving is symbolic and what is slowing hurting DC. Of course there is much consternation about editorial mandates at Marvel also, but the chaos level seems either better managed or at least reported on less then at DC. The hue and cry is DC has no clue what they are doing, the defense sales are better.

My view has been and continues to be that the short term gain will not be a long term turn for the better. I think the next year or two will prove my opinion to be borne out. If I’m wrong and the DCU continues going great guns, then congratulations, if I’m right that Didio and Harras will have to go.

In order to examine why I think DC is in long term dire straits one only has to look at Superman as one of the two foundation characters and he can barley carry two series, three if we add in Supergirl. The Batman family of books is what supports DC. Superman has floundered for years and with a few bright spot exceptions DC has not had a clue how to handle the character. The recent re-launch of Action and Superman were not even coordinated. DC has had a long history of trying to work off Grant Morrison’s work. It has been obvious from Countdown to the Batman Returns cross-over event either they are not talking to Grant or Grant is just f**king with them and changes his plot after he tells DC what he is doing. In this case the new Superman book by George Perez ended up reading like a different character then the one Grant was fashioning in Action. The result is Action is an okay book and Superman was a train wreck. Perez said the editorial interference was untenable and he went back to just being an artist. Supergirl is on reboot number six or seven and it has just doesn’t work because I have no real feeling for the connectivity with the characters or the history of the characters. Even the Batman books don’t hang together that well and I only follow Batman, Batman and Robin and Nightwing is on death’s door for me, 12 issues in and we have not establish anything for Dick.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dynamite Comics Preview Review for November

So I have just gone crazy and have decided to have more fun with various posts. Our old format was to group all sorts of smaller companies together for preview reviews, but for right now I decide to spotlight a company and add some commentary some of their offerings.

I have a mixed opinion of Dynamite Comics; on one hand I enjoy a few of their offerings. On the other they often seem to push the envelope with what is or what is not public domain. I’m not sure what is how the whole public domain thing works, but heck I can download a ton of older material like Tarzan books for free, so I guess it is all fair game. Often it feels like the easy way out and a chance to exploit older stuff and to not have to pay anybody, but the whole creator rights debate is very convoluted with older stuff.

MASKS #1   
Written by Chris Roberson, art by Alex Ross, covers by Alex Ross, Jae Lee, Francesco Francavilla, Ardian Syaf
Before superheroes, there were Masks! The Shadow, the Green Hornet, Kato, the Spider and more in a story that only Dynamite could tell! For the first time ever, these masked vigilantes are joining together in on EPIC series! It's 1938, and the Justice Party has swept into office in New York State. But the newly-elected officials are in the control of powerful criminals, who quickly corrupt the law to their own advantage. When a fascist police state is instituted, the only ones who stand in defense of the innocent are masked vigilantes like the Shadow, the Green Hornet, Kato, and the Spider. As the confrontation builds, more masked heroes will join the fight including Black Bat, Miss Fury, Black Terror, Green Lama and many more! When the law is unjust, justice must be an outlaw! 32 pages, $3.99. 
Jim: See this book is one that I will try. It is written by Chris Roberson whose work I enjoy. Also it has art by Alex Ross so it should be a good looking book. In some ways I’m wondering how well this book will work as I have never seen this type of work from Chris and Alex usually works better with a straight super hero type book. Will this noir team up thing work for these guys? I’m willing to try one issue at least. Plea to Dynamite, please stop with the endless variant covers, it makes you seem cheap and just pandering to the old style collection mentality.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enormous – A Review

On a whim I ordered Enormous from my LCS. It took awhile to get it because I do my books via mail order and the book was enormous, in what used to be called the Treasury Edition size. Once a month or so all the hard covers and other odds and ends get shipped to me via parcel post to save cost and makes all of our lives easier, this shipment included the aforementioned book.

Hard to Tell How Big It Is
Compared to a regular comic it is huge
The book was an enormous failure and disappointment. The book deserves the pun. If you are calling your book Enormous you are asking for the bad puns.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Bionic Man #11 – A Review

Written by Phil Hester
Art by Ed Tadeo
Colors by Thiago Ribeiro
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99

I had considered writing about this issue a few weeks ago, but the siren call of Lego Batman 2 for the PS3 was too strong (and I didn’t have to post anything during our hiatus anyway).  I was really stoked about it at the time.  Now, if I can only remember what I wanted to say…

It took me a few issues to get into this series, but it’s definitely one of my favorites right now (especially since Daryl Gregory’s Planet of the Apes by BOOM! just ended).  It’s been so good that I’ve done single issue reviews twice before for numbers 4 and 7 with nary a mention on Dynamite’s Featured Reviews page.  Maybe the third time will be the charm, but really it doesn’t matter, because I can’t help but sing the praises of this book.

This is the first issue that doesn’t sport the Kevin Smith banner on the cover.  His excellent ten part origin story ended last issue along with his co-scripting duties with Phil Hester, who is now the series writer.  Unfortunately, it looks like Jonathan Lau will not return as the artist, since there is a House AD promoting his new Peter Cannon Thunderbolt series.  I’m really disappointed by that change, because I really enjoyed his pencils, especially his inventive layouts. 

With all the creative changes, I figured this might be the perfect jumping off point (to make room on the pull list roster), but I decided to give the new story arc a try and I was pleasantly surprised at how great it was.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What I’m Getting Wednesday August 22

Actually they are mailed to me and I get my books on Thursday, but Wednesday is comic day in America so why quibble.

My standard DC fare is down to bare bones. This week it includes All Star Western, Batman Inc, I Vampire and Justice League Dark, I can make a strong argument that all four of those are not normal DCU super hero books. One thing that DC has done that has kept me on as a fan of any DCU books is a strong sense of diversification of the type of books being published.

All Star Western moved Jonah Hex to Gotham, but kept the time period. We could argue about it being a “Western” as it takes place on the east coast. I liked it before and I’m enjoying this series even more as it has maintained Moriat as the artist for most issues.

Batman Inc. is Grant Morrison’s swan song on Batman and I believe Grant reinvigorate the Batman line, Not since O’Neil and Adams made him back into the Dark Knight has the core of the book had so many changes. As with his X-Men run, Grant pumped up life into the character and has had fun with the book. It is a shame that the new DCU blunted some of what he had done.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Howard, Dean & Two Old Guys on a Bench

I guess you never know where you'll find comics.  This great  image adorned the sleeve of the 1977  Dean Friedman LP, which features his one-hit wonder song, Ariel.  I found it today, when I finally decided to play it after purchasing it over my summer vacation from the Leavenworth DAV thrift store.  The delay was caused by my staticy record player, which fortunately played much nicer when I came up with the bright idea to vacuum the speakers!  Anyway, I thought it was a really cool picture (and it's a great story too [the Howard the Duck Treasury]) and I just wanted to share it.

Want something more substantial, check out my archived HtD post from a while back...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Random Thoughts

Lee, Gwen, Thomm, Matt and I have been discussing the blog back and forth. I have at times advocated ending the blog or continuing in some different manner. I believe that things have a natural life cycle and perhaps this blog has run its course. Maybe we should rechristen the blog and repurpose it. On one hand I may like to do some focused reviews of single books, solicit for people to send their various projects to us and do reviews of the projects. Of course if I absolute hate something I would just tell the person and pass on the review. Why would I do that, because I see no reason to denigrate someone’s work when they are trying to make a go of it, I would happily pass on my comments as to why I disliked something, but I would only publish books that I thought were at least a C. Bigger publishers and more successful writers can certainly survive my scorn. I still have a lot to say just not sure about how I want to say it. Any reader feedback would be welcome.
I have been reading a ton of different stuff and have some impressions I would like to share.

Mind Mgmt #3 by Matt Kindt and published by Dark Horse was a great read. From the first issue it has been a good book, now it is finally starting to flow into a more cohesive narrative. I look forward to any book by Matt and this book is no exception and is shaping up as one his best works. The story of who is Harry Lyme and why he made everyone on a plane forget what happened is a good one. Matt is also having fun with Frankenstein Agent of Shade in DC comics, check out both of them.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The List - July 2012

Yeah, we're on vacation, but I'm still putting up the list.  Gets me away from too much arguing with people on Facebook.  Is it really that hard to grasp that there's no irony or hypocrisy in being intolerant of other people's intolerance?  Are people who are against gay marriage that unable to reason through the thought process?  Just wondering.

Oh, and lest we have any trouble: SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS.  I'll be talking about what happens in books, ok?

1. Spaceman 8 - It's been a bit slow at times in coming out, but every time I get an issue of this book it's the highlight of the month, even if Scalped came out, too.  The dystopian world Azzarello and Risso created is just so engaging.  Carter and Orson are working together to find and rescue Tara now, though it's a bit of a suspicion filled alliance.  The flashbacks to their time on Mars is still filling in how Orson came to be a junk hunter and Carter became a bounty hunter.  Hard to believe it's all going to be wrapped up in the next issue.  Oh, and loved the title of this issue: "Floating Wait Less". 
2. American Vampire 29 - The Blacklist arc hits its second issue as Skinner and Pearl try to infiltrate the ring of vampires running things in Hollywood in the '50s.  There's more going on with that than they supposed, but in the forefront for Pearl is how Skinner came to be alive at all, let alone working for the Morningstar to hunt down other vampires.  Not that Skinner would mind hunting down other vampires even without something hanging over his head to force him.  It's the lack of killing non-vampires that's really different.

3. Fairest 5 - The Snow Queen and the Bad Fairy are ripping things up nicely in their battle.  Jonah, now a flaming bottle imp, is arcing across the sky.  Ali Baba figures out why he loves the Snow Queen rather than Sleeping Beauty.  Hadeon must have liked the George Clooney Batman.  She magically creates a suit of armor for her battle with Lumi and goes to the trouble of including nipples on the breast plating.  Next issue's battle of the fairy godmothers looks like it'll be a great conclusion to the story.

4. The Walking Dead 100 - I know, it's the big 100th issue and it didn't even make #1 on the List.  Not that it's bad, obviously.  It's just there was a certain determinist element to it.  Big issue means someone major in the cast had to die.  That it turned out to be Glenn wasn't a big surprise, given who we had to choose from among the captured grouped.  I would have been more surprised if it were Michonne, and a whole lot surprised if it were Rick or Carl.  Nagan's an interesting villain, as we're finally seeing him.  He's not so much The Governor reincarnated as the Humongous from The Road Warrior.  Sure, he doesn't have the shirtless thing and mask going on, but he's a big guy and there's some gay bondage overtones.  With the Guarding the Globe mini and this, I'm starting to think Kirkman has a bit of an obsession going on.

5. Saga 5 - Love this book.  From the opening page of royalty taking a crap (and reading while going about it) to the end of our bounty hunters in love angle, it's a great ride.  I sure hope my wife doesn't shoot me with a stun gun as a sign of love, though.  That I could do without.  Again, though, I want to mention Vaughan's letter column, To Be Continued.  I haven't had this much fun with an exchange between writer and readers since The Question back in the day.  And, of course, I should mention Fiona Staples's great art.  All kinds of differnet humanoids and critters to work with in this book.  And we didn't even have a disembowled ghost showing.

6. Fables 119 - The Island of Misfit Toys, deadly edition, continues to hit home.  Terese is an a very bad place, and it's interesting to see how the young cubs have so much potential to be very malignant forces in the Fables world, depending on what happens to them.  Raw tyger for lunch.  Even if Dare or her parents rescue her, Terese is a changed person after this experience.  And every time you have some sympathy for the toys, it quickly goes out the window with the next horrific thing they inflict on her.

7. The Unwritten 39 - Pullman's wooden forearm and hand are now totems of worship.  Our cult leader, not surprisingly, is connected to the doings at Oxford a year prior, as is our infiltrator of the cult.  Not a happy reunion, though they didn't know each other at Oxford, what with all the other people involved.  Surprisingly, we suddenly get a bunch of Pauly Bruckner back story.  I had forgotten about Pauly's job before he was turned into the fictional rabbit who fathers a generation of warriors.  Ride 'em, cowboy?  Does that apply for riding a unicorn?

8. American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares 2 - So Dracula isn't entirely fictional and he's also not entirely back from the dead.  Still, he exerts influence from within his coffin, which is now out and about in the world.  Now it's up to Felicia and Hobbes to track him down.  Nice choice of name for Hobbes, considering his line of work.  The tie of Jack the Ripper to the captured Dracula is a nice touch, too.  Everyone has their Jack theories and stories.  Why not Dracula?

9. Invincible 93 - Lots of good story about Robot and Monster Girl's 700 years in the Flaxan Dimension.  Still haven't gotten to the point of finding out what she did that he still holds against her.  Seems like it's mighty painful to both of them, whatever it is.  I love the reach to small details that were way back in the beginning of the series.  Mark's graduation cap that he tossed how long ago?  That thing's still at the center of a cult, its leader killed in a new Flaxan invasion.  Loved the consecutive splash pages showing battle progression, wordlessly, followed by a series of smaller panels, still wordless, that continued to show the fighting.  And now, super, big Flaxan dude...

10. Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures 4 - The Sparrow fights Nazis.  Robo learns the economics of comic book collecting.  Bruce Lee continues his tutelage of Robo, and goes through a lot of fence posts.  The survivor of the Vampire Dimension is found.  The comic book collecting short is all too spot on.

11. Wonder Woman 11 - Where most of the New 52 titles have dragged on and I've dropped, Wonder Woman remains the unique entirely engaging book.  From Azzarello's story telling to Chiang's art, this book has no peers in super hero comics from DC or Marvel.  Ok, I don't read any of the Marvel books, but I've seen nothing that approaches this in solicits.  Son Rise has us smack in the middle of godly machinations that would make Machiavelli proud.  Artemis and Harvest have a lovely conversation, with Harvest getting the primo quote: "Moon, there's birth and there's death, and in between it's all improvisation."  Now there's a truism.

12. Before Watchmen: Minutemen 2 - I think I'm getting more of how warped the Comedian is out of this book than out of his own book.  That probably has to do with this book showing how he was as a youth, which seems more disturbing than the same sort of behavior when he's older.  I love the cast of misfits at the tryouts for the Minutemen.  I can't decide if Hank or The Slut are my favorite.

13. Before Watchmen: Comedian 2 - You know someone as bent as The Comedian is in his element in a war zone, and especially one that had so little control as Vietnam did.  Too many clandestine missions and remote stations without adequate accontability.  Of course, why Dr Manhattan isn't sent in right away to end things, as I recall he eventually does in The Watchmen, I don't know.  But it is interesting to see how The Comedian approaches the war as a fun house.

14. Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre 2 - Laurie's bohemian living while moonlighting as a super hero is less the dark tale that emerges in The Comedian or Minutemen, but it sure is beautiful with Amanda Connor's art.  Fitting for the beauty of the cast in the original story.  Fitting for the girl fight in this issue, too.

15. iZombie 27 - Almost at the end.  Or rather, the end of The End.  Too bad Gwen can't get any of her family to leave town to save themselves from the method she's going to employ to save the rest of the world.  Hell, even more of her family is showing up now.

16. Saucer Country 5 - A bit curious on the cover, what with all the little symbols.  The governor is quite the woman, being able to fake being under hypnosis like she did.  Setting up Dr Glass to marginalize him as a threat to her presidential campaign was impressive.

17. Thief of Thieves 6 - Well, Redmond set up his team and all but one were arrested.  Now if only he can explain to Celia how the set up is a set up itself before she shoots him...

18. Dark Horse Presents 14 - Even without any of the big names a I really like to follow, this anthology continues to have a good selection of quality stories.  This issue even had 104 pages instead of its usual 80 pages, so the $8 price isn't a bad deal at all.  Not that it's bad at 80, but 24 more pages of good stories for the same price doesn't hurt.  The gimmick of having to flip over the book halfway through and start at the other end is pointless but harmless.

19. Dominique Laveau Voodoo Child 5 - We're settling in off of the opening arc, with some characters being more resistant to Dominique's assumption of the role of Queen than others.  Werewolves could be a bit of a problem.

20. Batwoman 11 - I've totally lost what's going on in this second arc of this book.  It looks great with Trevor McCarth and Pere Perez doing the art, but I can't remember why Batwoman is fighting these guys or what their organizational structure is.  Killer Croc is more a sideline than a villain.  I need to re-read.

21. Swamp Thing 11 and Animal Man 11 - I enjoy this and Animal Man as I read them, but unless we get to a resolution of some sort with the fight against the Rot I'm going to have to consider dropping these books.  For one thing, it's hard to believe no other heroes in the New 52 have noticed all of this going on around the world.  Not that I want some major crossover.  Far from it.  Just some mention within these books that someone, say like the great detective, Batman, has noticed.  At least Animal Man and Swamp Thing are now going to be working together.

23. World War III: Book One, Trinity 18, Trinity 34 - Free stuff.  World War III I understood, having read 52, but the Trinity books were a total mystery to me.  The only  thing I got out of them was that the Lois Lane depicted in these is a really shitty person.  No idea why Supes would want to have anything to do with this one.